By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-07-12 Print this article Print

Companies that want to control instant messaging and peer-to-peer file sharing across the enterprise, with a particular eye toward protection from viruses and unwanted instant messages, will find Akonix Systems Inc.s L7 Enterprise update a flexible management system.

L7 Enterprise 3.0, which began shipping in May, includes a gateway and a policy management system for auditing and blocking IM and file-sharing applications inside the network and across a companys firewall.

Priced at $3,846 for a 50-user license for the gateway, the product can quickly get expensive when components needed to manage IM-based communications effectively are added. A 50-user anti-virus license costs $484, and Compliance Manager for auditing IM communications costs $2,000 for a three-user license.

In eWEEK Labs tests, we liked the options L7 Enterprise provided for configuring the gateway to manage public IM clients, as well as enterprise IM software such as Microsoft Corp.s Live Communications Server. We found it easy to configure the system to block, flag or allow instant messages using a policy-based rules engine .

Although we found the L7 interface efficient for managing IM traffic, wed like more options from a management platform perspective than those provided by L7 Enterprises MMC (Microsoft Management Console) snap-in module.

Because America Online Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft frequently change the protocols for their consumer IM products, administrators have their hands full trying to block IM traffic at the firewall. L7 removes that burden by providing automatic updates for these protocols on a regular basis.

We could also configure the server to update its McAfee anti-virus engine and "spim" (spam for IM) and malware filter profiles. Although IM isnt subject to the same volume of spam and malware threats that e-mail is, there are four threats that L7 covers with this new version. These filters run off the same policy engine used to monitor and control IM content, so it is possible to quickly create a policy that responds to a threat.

Next Page: Staying on top of policy violations.


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